Ruth Snyder

Executed 12th 1928: 11.00am

The silence [in the execution chamber] was almost solid.  The witnesses sat tense and waiting staring at the door which opened at the rear of the Chair.  The dorr was flung suddenly open.  Fr Murphy, McAffrey and the chaplain entered the room, their heads bowed in prayer.  They were followed by Ruth Snyder, accompanied by two matrons, Mary Mann and Lilian Hickey.  Ruth's figure appeared shrunken, her formally bright golden hair was now dull.  she was clad in an unpressed brown cotton smock and slippers.

She sat in the lethal chair.  Her executioner emerged and the attendants strapped her wrists to the chair arms and adjusted the leather helmet to her head.  Suddenlt she screamed.

Carefully they attached the leg electrode underneath her grey skirt which they gave Ruth as her death shroud.  The mask was lowered.

The executioner threw the switch.  The current crackled and Ruth's legs strained back against the chair.  Her arms went stiff against the fastenings.  The executioner worked the current up, then down.  Ruth's chest rose and fell.  A photographer present had strapped a camera to his shin and took th enow famous photograph of Ruth dying.

[PHOTO taken illicitly from a camera strapped to a reporter's leg] 

Ruth finally died.  The straps were undone.  The body fell limply onto the white enamelled stretcher, with gaping mouth and protruding tongue, and was taken to the autopsy room.

[M.James: "Women on Death Row" Forum Press]